Data money makers: An ethnographic analysis of a global cryptocurrency community

Br J Sociol. 2022 Jan;73(1):168-187. doi: 10.1111/1468-4446.12916. Epub 2021 Dec 27.


Proposed by an unknown young man using the pseudonym Electra01, Electra appeared in the cryptocurrency markets in 2018. Thanks to its innovative supply mechanism, the money's market capitalization briefly reached 136 billion USD, surpassing Bitcoin in value. Focusing on the empirical case of Electra, a project that was chosen as the "best cryptocurrency community" by the users of world's largest exchange, Binance, this paper ethnographically analyzes the sociological universe of a cryptocurrency community. The research consists of two years of fieldwork, interviews with the core team and the project's anonymous founder, a survey among its community members, and computational analyses of the interaction data of the project's Twitter community of 376,600 handles, as well as their Bitcointalk forum. The paper approaches the socio-technical universe of a cryptocurrency community by examining the devices, networks, and representations that the community actors produce, use, and maintain in data-money making and proposes a way to make visible and examine centers of power in a global community operating a seemingly "decentralized" blockchain.

Keywords: blockchain; community; cryptocurrency; data money.

MeSH terms

  • Anthropology, Cultural*
  • Commerce*
  • Humans
  • Male